If you're eager to help but not sure where to start, here are 67 ideas of how you can spend your 67 minutes this Mandela Day.
1. Donate blood, especially if you are group O, as the blood bank is dangerously short of blood at this time. If you are over 16 and weigh more than 50kg, go to www.sanbs.org.za or sms your name and postal code to 31454 to get details on your closest blood bank.
2. Put a tin money box on the hall table to collect small change for a local soup kitchen.
3. Support Sparrow schools: Sparrow is a non-profit outfit that educates children with learning difficulties to grade 9 and then puts them through a tertiary program to develop skills so that they are employable, like floor laying and hotel schooling. Karen Lancaster, fund-raising manager, invites corporates in particular to partner with them in development programs. “It enables the company to reach their BEE score and our kids get jobs!” Call them on 011 673 4410.
4. Fish out old prams and baby cots and donate them to an infant home.
5. Buy a bangle and support container libraries. Log in to www.46664.com/bangle to see where these have been placed so far.
6. Sign up at an old age home to read the newspaper or play an instrument to the elderly once a month for the next year.
7. When shopping, buy extra female hygiene products and drop off packs, with a personalised message on each, to a women’s shelter for the abused: www.onesocietyinitiative.org.za
8. Sign up with a Saturday school and commit a few afternoons a month to improving the marks of underprivileged matrics.
9. Provide back-up support for volunteer workers by serving tea or generating food packs on a monthly basis.
10. The SPCA welcomes volunteers and is always in need of help with kennel duties and skills in admin, legal and counselling functions. www.nspca.co.za
11. Offer to drive someone who can’t afford it to have an HIV test and provide emotional support.
12. Sign up with Generation Earth and help your child start up a “Gen earth” committee at their school. They focus on carrying out green projects and educating their peers on environmental issues. www.generationearth.co.za
13. Read out loud Nelson Mandela’s life history on www.nelsonmandela.org.za to inspire your children.
14. Pick up 67 pieces of litter.
15. Drop off scrapbooking supplies and scraps of fabric at a retirement home for use in creating crafts for end-of-year markets.
16. Download the Sassi card to check that the fish you order in a restaurant is not endangered: www.wwfsassi.co.za
17. Redeem points earned on a shopper’s card for gift vouchers for your domestic worker to take home.
18. Make a point of meeting all your neighbours and set up a “whatsapp” group so you can report suspicious activity directly to each other.
19. Jacaranda children’s home is a non-profit shelter for abused and abandoned kids which is caring for 350 children. They also run a home for pregnant women and take in financially affected children. Ancha Smuts says they would welcome donations of non-perishable food, toiletries and cleaning equipment. You can also pledge money via SMS: www.jacarandachildren.co.za or 012 800 4700
20. Set up a community garden in your neighbourhood where residents can share the water and weeding.
21. Ashoka is a volunteer portal for individuals to sign up with their skills set and wait for opportunities to give back. www.ashoka.org/volunteer
22. Take a can of Q20 or a weed-eater to your local park and tidy up or fix rusty joints of the equipment.
23. Pledge to unplug your chargers from now on.
24. Sponsor a guide dog by paying for the puppy training: www.guidedog.org.za or call 011 705 3512.
25. Sign up as an organ donor – your body can save up to seven lives and many more with tissues like heart valves. www.odf.org.za
26. Living seeds organisation, an organic seed company, is calling for volunteers to help their charities plant the gardens. They say time and expertise are needed as many of the beneficiaries are “soil illiterate”. www.livingseeds.co.za
27. Bake something for the local police station night shift to encourage them in their difficult work.
28. Donate platelets at www.sanbs.co.za
29. Sign up as a regular donor to the Star’s Seaside fund. The charity gives underprivileged children the opportunity to have a fun-filled holiday at the sea – many of them have never seen the beach and the 10 days spent are a treasured time for them. Maggie Mosiane, who accompanies the groups to KZN, says: “Some of the kids hide because they don’t want to leave when the 10-day stay comes to an end.” Call Maggie on 011 633 2304.
30. Drop off a soft toy at the Johannesburg central police station – the toys are kept at the victim empowerment centre to hand out to abandoned and abused children when they come in for counselling.
31. It’s the coldest time of the year – collect blankets and give them to homeless shelters. Contact the Salvation Army on 011 718 6746.
32. Sign up for the 94.7 and begin collecting sponsorships for a charity of your choice. Use www.given gain.com to manage the pledges and offer your supporters transparency.
33. Take a pack of seeds to a rural school and help the children plant them.
34. Print a booklet of lessons for your domestic worker’s kids. There are a number of sites that let you reproduce their worksheets for free.
35. Offer to feed a neighbour’s pet or house-sit while they are away.
36. Log into to www.backabuddy.co.za and sign up to follow a cause. Better still, begin a new one and get fund-raising.
37. Drop off a bag of pet food or a blanket at your local SPCA.
38. Talk to your suburban shopping centre about recycling and encourage them to manage their trash.
39. Pledge to have more showers and fewer baths.
40. Qhubeka encourages rural residents to plant food gardens and trees and in return earn a bicycle, which provides a great amount of freedom for the children as they use them to travel the long distances to school. “We support it because it empowers the people rather than simply handing out help,” says Eleanor Mitrovitch, general manager of MTN Branded, the major sponsor of the initiative. Check out their work on www.qhubeka.org.za
41. Get inspired by going to www.giveback.co.za.
42. Invite a needy family for dinner or cook a meal for them.
43. Read for Tape Aids for The Blind – if your voice passes the audition, you get to record a book. Call 011 786 6130 or www.tapeaids.com
44. Go to your local library and ask them how you can help to keep them going – providing cake when people from the local old age home visit or reading to kids.
45. Plant a tree at home and give a twin plant to someone in an informal settlement. Compare their growth over the years.
46. Clean out your shelves and get a bag of books ready to deliver to a school that needs extra reading books.
47. Pledge to use your next “party” for fund-raising by creating a ‘cause’ on www.backabuddy.co.za That way, you’ll encourage your friends to think about charitable socialising.
48. Swap your usual take-out paper cups for a ceramic one to ease the impact on landfills.
49. Buy balls of wool for an old age home or donate a chess set that you don’t use.
50. Switch the TV off in the evening and talk to your children about starting a family charity – something you can all fund-raise toward that is important to all of you. If you register it at www.startsomethingday.co.za, you could win money for the cause.
51. Take a new soccer ball to a local school for the kids.
52. Go to the local hospital and see if you can get on a standby list to help out in the trauma waiting area when they are under pressure.
53. Donate old magazines to a home or a needy nursery school.
54. “Like” the homecoming revolution and show overseas friends that SA is still the best: www.homecomingrevolution.co.za
55. Hold a garage/jumble sale for charity.
56. Get a My School card and register a rural school as the beneficiary: www.myschool.co.za or call 0860 100 445.
57. Instead of spending on a meal at a restaurant, put together a food parcel for someone at work who has fallen on hard times.
58. Start buying food in minimal packaging to save on throw-away items.
59. Do some research into the products you usually buy – find alternatives that are better for our planet.
60. Register with greater good: www.myggsa.co.za and create a “giver” profile.
61. Offer your services to the Highveld Horse Unit. See them on Facebook to see how you can help.
62. Commit to sorting your trash at source to make life easier for the informal recyclers who rummage through the garbage.
63. Sort out your cupboard and give someone your old clothing to sell to boost their income.
64. The Origins Centre at Wits will be holding an exhibition on Nelson Mandela and will be collecting for the Star’s Operation Snowball. Drop off canned food, blankets and clothes. Open from 9am to 5pm.
65. Switch off one geyser for the month, to help ease the pressure on the country’s electricity supplies.
66. Soccer outreach ambassadors in soccer (AIS-SA) welcome soccer enthusiasts to help them engage poorer societies throughout SA using the vehicle of soccer. Contact them on 012 348 0025.
67. Cheese kids, who describe themselves as a “broad-based volunteer program”, are seeking volunteers on Mandela Day. Log on to their website and RSVP to their “Nelson Mandela day revolution” or donate by sms: www.cheesekids.org.za
- IOL, Saturday Star